Areas of Possible Research
While the exact research projects to be undertaken are yet to be determined, we believe that some or all of the following issues and projects should be considered.

Base Line Studies    top
To support future research, it would be advantageous to undertake base line flora, fauna and anthropological studies. These could form the basis of longitudinal studies measuring the effects of the changes at Las Alturas. We will also need to understand existing successful organic farming methodologies in the specific Las Alturas micro climate and soil type. A review of existing research applicable both to the concepts of sustainable communities and to the local ecosystem should be undertaken.

Rain Forest Preservation    top
Rain forests can only be preserved within a human context. It would be advantageous to conduct research into methods that allow rain forest protection to be consistent with adjacent human habitation and economic activity. Ways of allowing the Las Alturas rain forest to contribute to the economic development of the local community without adverse impact on the forest itself need to be developed.

Sustainable Communities in Rain Forests    top
We would like to transform Las Alturas into a community that embodies not only the highest principles of environmental consciousness and conservation, but provides the inhabitants with many modern comforts, full sanitation and waste handling, non-fossil generated electricity and a sustainable economy. The goal is to create a working community demonstrating and developing innovative methods for sustainable economic utilization of the land without despoliation. These economic goals must be accomplished at the same time as we preserve and protect the virgin forests.

Anthropological Studies and Preservation of Cultures    top
We understand there is a remnant of the indigenous population, apparently somewhat nomadic, lingering at and around the borders of Las Alturas. Occasionally members of this population are hired by the farm, and relatives of these people live as a small sub-culture of the village. Because of difficulties communicating with this group (they are shy and speak little Spanish), we have little knowledge of their present culture. Our goal is to help preserve their culture as long as possible, and to learn and preserve their shamanic and herbal wisdom before it is lost.

Cultural Acceptability    top
We want to consider the cultural requirements of the Costa Rica population and create methods that will permit the successful introduction and maintenance of new construction, farming and forest management techniques.

Economic Development    top
To permit environmental protection in developing countries, economic systems must be developed that permit improvement in economic status without negative effects on the local environment.

Sustainable Agriculture    top
We would like to develop methods for successful and sustainable agriculture without degrading the land or water while producing commercially viable products. We would like to create an economic model that would permit the village to become economically sustainable without destroying or degrading the environment.

Non-toxic Approaches    top
In all areas, but especially in agriculture, we insist that techniques be developed and implemented strictly without recourse to any herbicides, pesticides, toxins, or genetically engineered organisms. Our goal is to create an entirely "organic" and non-toxic environment.

Sustainable, Low Carbon Energy Generation    top
This project will research and place in operation increased energy utilization efficiencies. We believe it is important to research alternative and renewable energy sources. For example, we might investigate hydroelectric or solar power that does not require a dam or other massive infrastructure that defaces or significantly impacts the environment. We propose investigating or innovating "small-scale" such as on-site, micro-generation of electricity rather than "large-scale" remote generation and expensive transmission approaches to power generation and utilization.

Renewable Biological Resources    top
We want to discover local renewable biological resources that do not require a lifetime or a generation to replenish (unlike a forest) and do not destroy an ecology to harvest. For example, are there indigenous, fast-growing building materials that could be planted and used as a primary construction material, as bamboo is in Asia?

Local Building Materials    top
We would like to study the use of locally available material for construction rather than using imported materials. For example, can the indigenous red clay be used to create bricks or mortar? Could an economical furnace -- using solar or locally generated hydroelectric power—be used to fire bricks made from local clay (thereby avoiding or dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels)?

Biological Waste Recycling    top
We would like to recycle human waste, as well as other biodegradable or compostable waste, so that the mineral content of consumed food and other waste is ultimately returned to the soil rather than being sequestered in a dead-end site commingled with toxins.

Inorganic Waste Reuse, Remanufacturing and Recycling    top
We will develop refuse handling schemes that recycle manufactured wastes (plastic, metal, glass, batteries, paper products, and chemicals), wherever possible, by reusing them in their present state, remanufacturing them into another state, or recycling them back to the industrial processes from which they were created. This would also dramatically reduce the disposal of solid waste into landfills.

Public Policy    top
While the primary thrust of the Las Alturas project is aimed at Las Alturas itself, Zenerji has a great interest in promoting worldwide environmental policies that protect the environment. We anticipate that the Las Alturas project may provide a vehicle for demonstrating practical implementations of global policy proposals. In addition, we should consider the policy implications of attempting to propagate new, environmentally sound methods of economic activity in Costa Rica.